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Bruno, former Brooklyn judge and OEM commissioner, to head Helen Keller Services

January 29, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joseph F. Bruno has been named president and CEO of Helen Keller Services. Photo courtesy of Epoch 5
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Effective Friday, Joseph F. Bruno, a former commissioner of the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and a former Brooklyn state Supreme Court judge, has been appointed president and CEO of Helen Keller Services (HKS).

A national organization founded in 1893, HKS, headquartered on Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn, is comprised of Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB) and Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC). Bruno succeeds Thomas J. Edwards, who is retiring from HKS after six years of service.  

The announcement was made by Christopher Maher, chairman of HKS’s board of trustees.  

“I want to thank Tom for his many years of service to HKS, not just as president, but as a member and former chairman of the board,” said Maher. “He was a staunch advocate and great friend of Helen Keller Services and will be missed.

“We look forward to working with Joe as he takes the helm,” Maher continued.  “Joe has been an extremely active board member for over 16 years, especially on HKS’s Operations Committee, which oversees programs. His many years of public service and devotion to HKS will serve the organization well as it continues to help clients develop independence and adapt to the ever changing environment.”

Bruno brings with him more than four decades of public service under five New York City mayors: John Lindsay, Abe Beame, Ed Koch, Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio.

“I am deeply honored to serve HKS as president and CEO,” said Bruno. “The same enthusiasm and leadership that I have shown throughout my many years of public service will be directed to HKS and its important work on behalf of individuals in need in New York and across the country. It is a great responsibility, and I could not be more pleased by my new role in the organization.”

Bruno’s public service career is one marked by significant achievements, from his beginning days as a state parole officer to his most recent tenure as OEM commissioner.  Joining the New York City Law Department in 1971, he rose to manage three major divisions within that department.

In 1983, Bruno became the city’s first deputy fire commissioner. Three years later, he was selected by Koch to head the Parking Violations Bureau at a time when that bureau was riddled with scandal. Under Bruno’s leadership, the bureau was restored to respectability. In 1987, Koch appointed him as the city’s fire commissioner.

In 1991 and 2001, Bruno was elected to two separate 10-year terms as a city Civil Court judge. In 2002, while on the bench at the Civil Court, Judge Bruno was elected to serve as a state Supreme Court justice in Kings County.

In 2004, in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Bloomberg asked Bruno to join his administration as commissioner of the newly chartered OEM. With Bruno at the helm, OEM dedicated its new headquarters on Cadman Plaza East, Downtown Brooklyn, in 2005.

During the course of his 10 years of service as commissioner, Bruno proved instrumental in the development and leadership of the largest and most highly regarded municipal emergency management agency in the country.

Bruno’s expertise in emergency management has garnered the attention of elected

officials and leadership worldwide. Having hosted military and civilian leaders from Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East, OEM has become a global model for success in crisis management. In 2004, Bruno rolled out the NYC Citywide Incident Management System, which stands today as the system under which NYC manages all major emergencies.

In addition to his official posts, Bruno serves as a trustee of the board of directors of Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park and continues in a senior leadership role with Big City Emergency Managers — a not-for-profit group that is made up of directors or commissioners of emergency management agencies from 15 major U.S. cities.

Before being named to head HKS, his most recent position was vice president for emergency management and senior strategic adviser at RedLand Strategies, a business development and government relations firm.

Bruno is a lifelong New York City resident who holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from City College and a Juris Doctor degree from St. John’s University Law School.

Helen Keller Services’ mission is to enable individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive in the communities of their choice. For more information, visit


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